Temple Fang – Down the Hill Festival 2021
At the end of August, in the small village of Rillaar, something wonderful happened. With the numbers of Covid going down, and the restrictions loosening up, the small DIY festival of Down The Hill could take place, with only a few basic safety rules, and no social distancing. Finally, a glimpse of hope to a return of the natural order of things, music, gigs, and happenings as we used to know it, and love it, before the shit hit the fan in Spring last year.
With Mrs. Rifffox, we took our tickets as soon as the omens seemed to align for this cool festival to happen and we managed to bring you back some bits of it. I did a few lives on our Facebook page that you might have seen back then, we’re working on a full report with pictures that will be published soon.
But we also got the opportunity to talk with two of our favorite bands of the line-up, Temple Fang, and Monomyth. So today we’re presenting you our interview of Dennis Duijnhouwer (bass & vocals) and Jevin De Groot (guitar & vocals) from the up-and-coming dutch band Temple Fang. We had quite a long and interesting talk (38min!!!), which sadly brought us some technical issues with the video. So you can check out the full transcript right below. Check out also the nifty pictures from their gig that day, right below the transcript, courtesy of Mrs. Rifffox. Enjoy!
Mr. Stone: Hello Dennis, Jevin, you’re from Temple Fang. This weekend we’re here for Down The Hill with More Fuzz. How has it been for the last few years for you, as a band to cooperate? To keep being creative during lockdown, and all that shit that fell upon us in the last few years?
Dennis Duijnhouwer: Well, it was fun. Obviously, it’s been rough for everyone. But I think we started really fanatical about it. We’re gonna keep jamming, as much as we can, most of us lost all our work as well. We didn’t have much else to do. So first, I think the first six months, were really creative, it was like a road. We jammed and jammed…
Mr. Stone: The lockdown didn’t really prevent you from seeing each other, and keep playing together?
Dennis: We were lucky that we all live in the same city. So we didn’t have to travel very far. So we were able to put in a lot of time in the beginning. And then we did a couple of streams, which were sort of, obviously like a different energy.
Mr. Stone: There was one that this was Sonic Whip, I think?
Dennis: Sonic Whip was really cool. We did three, I guess. And Sonic Whip for us musically, it was the best, but it was also really strange energy. I don’t really get nervous anymore, for shows. Like just you know, like some healthy…
Jevin De Groot: Excitement?
Dennis: Excitement! But before the live streams, it’s such strange energy, for the Sonic Whip one, we played in a large hall, in the Doornroosje Nijmegen. And there was no one.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, it was completely empty
Dennis: A black hole. We were all convinced. Every once in a while you have a show, like and everybody in the band knows it. You walk offstage and look at each other, like, “this was probably the worst show we ever did”. And we all agree. “This is the worse we ever played, like it was just so uncomfortable”. And then the crew people came to us. And they were raving like, “Dude, that was amazing.” “No, it wasn’t” “Yeah, it was!” and we watched it back. And it was good. It was really good, I’m really happy with the result, it felt really not good, uncomfortable, weird, lots of lights and no one there and in the end we did play well. That energy was strange. And so we kept it up for a while and then we did one Corona show, like a seated show, in December. We were supposed to do five of those. And then all of them got canceled so…
Jevin: We did the last show in the country
Dennis: Yeah, there was the last show in the country and then another lockdown happened. So after that, we hit the wall. We are exhausted, we were supposed to play these shows and then build up to a recording and then like test drive all the material for shows. You know, obviously with only one show, it didn’t happen…
Mr. Stone: Not enough time for test drive… Just enough to get warm.
Dennis: It got really strange. And then we did a TV thing for dutch television, which was amazing. But also like an empty 013 venue in Tilburg. And then we lost our drummer, we sort of drifted apart and he was really busy, he had kids at home, he was working at home. We were sort of all unemployed like with nothing to do.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, that was a hard time for everyone, so that’s how you came to your new drummer?
Dennis: Yeah, we parted ways, and it was painful, but, at this point, we’re friendly, and there was a lot of acceptance. So obviously, you can’t separate that happening from the pandemic. It’s just that energy. You know, if you do a lot of shows, you stay together as a group, and once there’s no shows, no way to connect to an audience, there wasn’t a whole lot keeping us together as a group
Mr. Stone: Yeah, it changes the whole alchemy.
Dennis: Yeah. So it was a really sad time for us. We had some shows, this one at Down The Hill, booked. And we were not in a position to not play there, also for financial reasons, because we were trying to put out a record ourselves, you know, no money. So it was like, alright, we don’t know how we’re going to do it. But we’re going to play those couple of shows that are booked in August, September, we’re going to play there. So only about a month ago, we found a new drummer
Mr. Stone: A month ago?
Dennis: Yeah, this Saturday was the music we made this month. We decided to just do the new stuff. Not spending energy on, you know, like practicing old songs with a new drummer. I know bands do it, but…
Mr. Stone: There was only new material?
Dennis: Yeah. It was literally, this is sort of one composition. And it was built on the first jam within like his audition. We were like, let’s do that. Just keep it simple. Let’s just start with that first jam and make that into a song. And we did two tryouts yesterday. And today, this was the first real show. I’m happy that we made that decision.
Mr. Stone: With people standing and like in normal conditions again?
Jevin: Felt like some kind of freedom.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, it was fucking great to be there.
Dennis: I can’t describe. I saw you in the front, dude. I was like, oh, man, I miss that so much. People look around. And there’s like, smiling and like, getting the fists up. It’s crazy.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, and that set was fucking amazing. You really have a special way, and energy, of touching the crowd in front of you. I don’t know exactly how to express it, but…
Dennis: Well, normally, I mean, when we started like a live band, that’s our thing. You know, we didn’t put a record out, we put a live record out, because we sort of had to
Mr. Stone: I was gonna ask about that 🙂
Dennis: We’ll get to that, but for us, it’s been always about the show. The connection with the audience also really shapes the composition. When you play, then you notice, alright, this is too long. People lose interest, so all the songs are always composed with the crowd. That got really strange for the past year and a half, there’s no one reacting to it. There is no crowd. So it made composing really strange
Jevin: Like preaching to the void.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, that can seem a bit weird.
Jevin: It was sad, it was so separated.
Dennis: Just weird. It was weird for everyone.
Mr. Stone: Yeah. I mean, I’ve seen your Sonic Whip broadcast too, and I’ve enjoyed it. But from home was also weird feeling like, definitely not the same as what I seen before, or what I’ve seen today.
Dennis: You just feel stupid. Like, you want to rock out?
Mr. Stone: Yeah. But you’re on your couch
Dennis: It’s strange.
Mr. Stone: And so that’s how you compose music and create stuff, you jam first together, and then you try it out in front of the audience to see how to tweak it here and there.
Jevin: Yeah, we work with layers, we work in phases.
Mr. Stone: Yeah. So like, drafting a first version, and then seeing how it reacts with the crowd trying something?
Dennis: Yeah, I think almost all the songs have gone through a version, that was radically altered because we played it live. And something just wasn’t working.
Jevin: It’s natural, that exchange with the crowd. You’ll notice that right away, you’re trying to stick to your guns, to the composition that you made, but it’s just not working? Then you got to change it.
Dennis: You feel it.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, that’s really interesting to really bring the crowd and live parts into your composing and like, way of expressing yourself.
Dennis: The band was really born out of that, the crowd kept us going. We didn’t really start a band with any ambition in mind, or… there was no plan. But it was because we did one show, and then we got asked for another show. And it was really the crowd that sort of convinced us. Maybe you should take this seriously and do something with this. You spend some time with it. And so it was very more so than other bands that we’ve been in. It’s really like an interactive thing. So it was very strange in the past year and a half that, that thing wasn’t there. So we would invite people and friends to the rehearsal room. And just one person there, as an audience, changed the vibe and change the song. Suddenly you start performing to something.
Jevin: Yeah, bouncing off.
Dennis: Maybe we hadn’t realized that. How big of a part of Temple Fang that was. We got confronted with it, like, when you jam in rehearsal space, the jam could be three hours long, and, you know, we can go on here, like forever.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, no one’s gonna get bored.
Dennis: Yeah. But live, you know, you want to get just on the edge of people want, like, “maybe this part is too lon… Wow they changed it!” *enthusiasm noises*
Mr. Stone: And so that’s probably the reason why you put out a live album before putting any studio album I guess.
Dennis: Yeah, it was a practical thing as well, because we were sort of wanting to do this band on our own terms and not under the pressure of doing an album cycle. Signing with a label. But it became a bit of a thing, at the merch stand after shows where people would ask us “Why don’t you have any records?”
Jevin: Inconvenient pressure.
Dennis: People started to be aggressive, “What? You don’t have a record out?” “No” “Are you going to make a record?” “Maybe, we don’t know. I don’t think that’s why we do this.”
Jevin: It came after that. We crossed the threshold where people got really rude, they started to get like “Come ooooon! Record, record, record”
Mr. Stone: Yeah we want something
Jevin: Yeah, it was really crazy
Dennis: So, it was sort of a practical thing that our crew, our sound guy, came up with… They were fed up with the energy as well. “Fuck it man, we’re just going to record all the shows, Grateful Dead style, we are gonna put bootlegs out. And you know whether the band likes it or not, we’re gonna do this.” And I overheard this conversation. I was already like, asleep and they were still partying, and I thought That’s a good idea, we’re gonna record all the shows” and then somehow, we got a record out of that, one magical night, in Nijmegen. But we had no idea, you know, that this was going to be released, right in the pandemic. That was a live album.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, because I guess you planned it before.
Dennis: Yeah, it was already in production. It was planned when this happened. But that also sort of gave us a purpose, we put out this record, and it sold out, like we sold all of them. Like, in a couple of days. It made us feel… it sort of grounded us like, okay, there’s people who care and we don’t know when we are playing next, but it was really, really practical for us to have a record, to get something.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, even from a listener perspective, that was really good timing, to finally get something, to put to spin sometimes.
Dennis: It’s honest, you know, it’s an honest recording, it’s important to us not to make like, super cleaned up. It was really fast put together. Do a quick mix, master, throw it on vinyl, not even a proper sleeve and put a stamp on it. And it was done live.
Mr. Stone: That was an interesting way to make a record. Especially a debut album.
Jevin: That’s where we’re at, man. Realistically.
Dennis: And it sort of breaks that. I mean, you know, for other bands who work with this concept of album cycles. This whole business is still pretty based on this kind of idea of, you know, like, we’re booking shows now, so we get asked “So when’s the new album coming out?” “I don’t know, maybe we don’t need a new album”. So I understand. But I try, with this band, not to think that much in those kind of terms. Is it an EP, is it a full length, is it a live album? Yeah, it’s just something that you know, we make.
Jevin: Out of circumstances
Dennis: It’s just kind of like… whatever happened.
Mr. Stone: Yeah. But that’s pretty cool
Jevin: and creative
Mr. Stone: And in the end, in the way you built up your fan base and stuff, that’s pretty cool to be able to detach from that. For lots of bands they make records because that’s pretty much the only way they have to make money. And so it becomes kind of a vicious circle. And to get out of this vicious circle is really a good thing and only leaves room for creativity.
Dennis: That’s exactly it.
Jevin: It gives more space.
Mr. Stone: So I’m not gonna ask when is the next album gonna be released? (all laugh) Anyway, if you got a new drummer one month ago, I guess that’s something that has to build up.
Dennis: Well, there’s what we’re working on now. It’s actually being mixed as we speak. We were in a situation where we lost our drummer, right as we were in sort of pre production phase for like a proper “debut” album. And when he left, we were faced with the question of do we want to replace him, and then do the songs with another drummer. But somehow, I don’t feel like it fits the band, or I’ve been through previous experiences with other bands that I was in, where we had to replace a drummer, and playing old songs with a new drummer has never really worked for us, it was always stress and just didn’t feel right, like the magic wasn’t there. So, to cut this story short, we were trying to find a way to still make an album, but we had no drummer, and because we were recording all the shows… We did one Corona show in December, the dB’s Utrecht, that was recorded. So we figured let’s put out another live album. There, also very much for financial reasons. We have no income in the pandemic, we must generate something. So let’s do a cool live album, make it different than the first one. And then our producer Sebastiaan van Bijlevelt showed up to the studio to mix this live record and do some reamping, fix a couple of things. And he said, “No, we’re going to take these recordings, and make an album out of it and make a studio album, from these live recordings.” So that’s what we’ve been doing. It’s done now. It’s being mixed. And it was a strange process because we knew we’re never gonna play these songs live again. But we wanted to also have a document of that phase of the band, that lineup, the songs, that some hardcore Temple Fang fans know. So that’s the record we’re going to put out, we’re not sure yet, how, it might be a really limited release, just make a couple just for people that’ve seen the band on that night. And then we’re going to be working on something new with the new drummer.
Jevin: But once again, that’s circumstantial, it’s something happening in our life. And then you get creative with that. That which is presented to you. I guess we don’t really know another way of doing it. *laughs*
Mr. Stone: Yeah, I mean, you’re not the first band to change some musicians here and there. And it’s always important like you were saying, to make a kind of conclusion of that phase and put something on the wax that represents how it was at the end.
Dennis: Yeah, those live recordings, it was all we had. And for some songs, it was a bit strange, because there were songs that were 20 minutes that we played for the first time at the show, and they were recorded and now that’s going to be the record.
Mr. Stone: And you’re not gonna play them anymore…
Dennis: It’s so strange. It was an odd process, but at the same time, it was really creative. And I feel like it kept us a band, because when we lost Jasper on the drums, and there was no shows. It sort of became no man’s land, we all started doing things, like, maybe I want to start a different band, you know, maybe I want to do a solo electronic project…
Jevin: You start expanding, you know, or wandering
Dennis: But because we’re still three of us, we’re still with our sound engineer. We’re still going to the studio. And we’re spending a lot of time on it. Working out parts and the harmonies… I think it kept us together through one of the most difficult period of time
Jevin: Yeah, most definitely.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, that’s one of the problems, that is, with all the vinyl production and everything that takes so long, for something like what you’re explaining about that special record, it’s a moment in time. And then when you want to press it on record, you have to wait a year to get it.
Dennis: Exactly that, it is like this, but this is definitely the record that we’ve ever made in any of our bands, that we want to put out as quick as possible. And just, you know, get it out there. It’s been quite a puzzle to get, to get the record out. We’re pretty certain that we found a way to get it out soon. We found somebody that’s going to put it up with us.
Mr. Stone: Yeah. Because right now with the pressing times, all the record factories and everything is going insane
Dennis: And to be honest, like it was always our idea to be independent. Small team, people that you know, and do it ourselves, make the artwork or say, and now, that decision that we made, we get the downside. Because you’re independent, it’s really hard to get a spot in your pressing plant. Because, you know, if you’re on a big label, they’ll have slots. Like Metallica and all their reissues, they will have slots. So it’s been like trying to be independent. And this has been tough. It’s been way too much like, crawling around.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, but it’s good that you find some ways to go around it and learn to make it work anyway.
Jevin: It keeps you connected to the thing, learn something. Always working on something. It keeps you moving. The emotion of it all. It’s not always great but if that works…
Mr. Stone: Talking about keeping moving, do you have any other shows planned for the next months? Or some festivals for next year, maybe? How do you see, the reopening of everything that we are seeing now? For example, with Down the Hill, how do you see it coming for the next months or year?
Jevin: Well, it’s been a lot of moving around.
Dennis: It’s been a lot of moving around, shows at some shows that are on the fifth or sixth date. Once again, so yeah, like, hey, how many tickets did we sold? Like 200? Oh, so we can’t separate it into two shows, we have to separate into three seated shows, etc, etc. So we’re trying to avoid doing that, again, booking a whole bunch of shows, a tour, and then having to rebook everything. So we have a couple of things planned like three or four shows. So we have a show in Nijmegen coming up with a Belgium band called Neptunian Maximalism.
Mr. Stone: I discovered them on the Roadburn Online, and whoah.
Dennis: When we discovered them, right before the pandemic and we were like, “We have to get these guys to Holland, do some of the shows we booked like a long time ago.” We added a favorite Amsterdam band called Silverbones. And so it’s a three-band lineup. That show’s happening, on the 10th of September. And then there’s a couple of things planned in the year but we’re probably not… like in Holland it’s not a great situation, with the Government… You’re gonna have a Formula One with 80,000 people. You can put 30,000 people in a soccer stadium every week. In 5 or 10 different locations. But we can’t do a show for 150 people.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, it’s a bit of a problem everywhere right now.
Dennis: So I mean, today was super magical. I still can’t believe we’re here. Like this is like we’re alive!
Mr. Stone: It’s really amazing to be back at it. Once again. It’s been two years since we didn’t have anything like that and it’s freaking great.
Dennis: Everybody was telling us this week like “Hey, man, you’re going to Down The Hill! It’s gonna be so great.” And I just couldn’t get it. At the moment, we walk up on stage, and we kick in a song, then I believed that we’re actually playing a show, for people and they’re standing. And we did. It was magical, but who knows how this thing is gonna work out. You know, we want to do some shows but we want to avoid getting another round of like, “oh shit we can’t make this”.
Jevin: Yeah, we used to come to it. It would really just suck you up. And we really had to draw the line.
Dennis: And it becomes a financial issue as well.
Jevin: And stress.
Dennis: We don’t have a label, so everything gets financed out of the shows. You just end up in this constant recalculation, like, alright, this show’s not happening so we don’t get this money. Okay. How are we gonna put out the record that we miss 1000 euros?
[Interruption, by lights turning off and on a couple of times]
Mr. Stone: I have only one last question for you guys. Did you get hooked on any album? artists in the last few months or a year? Or something that’s really been staying with you a lot lately?
Dennis: Yeah, I got hooked last week. On the new Nick Cave and Warren Ellis‘ record “Carnage“. My girlfriend got totally hooked, it took me like one or two listens to get it, and then I got hooked. That’s not all I’ve been listening to, but it’s been a big record for me so far. Yeah, I mean, we listen to so much music. The last records I bought were some Lee Perry reissues, “Super Ape & the return of Super Ape“. But for discovering music, this past year and a half was good. Like I had no work to do so I could spend like full time digging. So yeah, I discovered a shit ton of new music. Amazing. in a different way than you would normally because you know…
Mr. Stone: Different setting. I discover normally lots of bands on stage. So, for the last year and a half that was not really possible…
Dennis: So you have to start digging. I have a Spotify subscription now, which I said I would never do.
Jevin: Yeah, me too
Dennis: Then I was like, I’m sitting at home all day. And I sort of reached the end of YouTube. Spotify subscription for the first couple of months. I was like, No, no, I get like a little kid.
Jevin: I got one guy, I got really into, one person. And this guys is Steve Gunn, and just that really has been repeating in my life. There was something sort of slipped by me, of course, he’s just an interesting creative person. So he’s making all different kinds of stuff. It’s a wonderful time off record, for time off, like a flower and of course, the old, very much, old Dub, Nyabinghi… stuff I like.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, there was something that crossed my mind on one of the tracks you have on the “Live at Merleyn” album, but also actually today, on the way you sing sometimes, it really sounds like some dub style, with a really nosy voice, super high pitched. It made me think of lots of things like that, that I used to listen to as well.
Dennis: I’m hearing it too, this dub singing.
Mr. Stone: I was like that’s a weird connection. I don’t know how I can ask about it. But okay, now I get it.
Jevin: I don’t know, when things shift around in your life, it makes space for other things, and these things just crept in. Especially there was an old old Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, and also Ras Micheal and the Sons of Negus, two Nyabinghi outfits from Jamaica. This kind of stuff is my gold, it just really, wow, spoke to me.
Mr. Stone: It’s quite interesting, at the same time to make a connection between kinds of music that are, so far away from each other, and still kind of work with each other in a way.
Dennis: If you would sit in the van with us, driving to these shows, you’d hear an insane amount of different stuff. We could be in a really bad metal vibe, you know? Play like 80s, and Metal, and then…
Mr. Stone: And then switch to the old school dub.
Dennis: Switch to the dub switch the new…
Mr. Stone: Yeah, that’s what keeps things creative and going, like keeping adding new things in the mix. And that comes from so different places at the same time.
Dennis: And there’s so much great music out there. I already felt, before the pandemic, that it was really healthy, like, old music, new music, you know, it was so so much of it. And I feel like music culture, in general, is going outside of genres. You sometimes you play these festivals, and then you don’t have much in common, you know, there’s different styles you play in the bands. But then, people have the record collections, I’ve noticed that people will get very different music from each other. When you come to their house, they’re also into Lee Perry, and they’re also into Mahavishnu Orchestra and after a bunch of drinks, they’re also into Motorhead. Or everybody loves Hendrix.
Dennis: So I feel like, if I’ve seen anything change in music for the past X amount of years, it’s that. People’s record collections are just getting cooler, more eclectic.
Dennis: You go to Roadburn you know, you see what actually plays there, like, whatever, you can go from San Diego, like, psychedelic rock, to like Norwegian black metal, Icelandic guys hitting keys on the laptop. It’s so diverse. I think all of us who are involved in music should be really proud of that. I swear to God, that was not the best year and a half but this time, this era will be remembered for that, like how music expanded, how people’s minds expanded.
Dennis: It didn’t use to be like this.
Mr. Stone: Lots of people were stuck at home and didn’t have so much to do. We didn’t have money to put into concert so we could buy records.
Dennis: True. I mean, even before the pandemic that was already happening. I remember us playing the Void Fest in Germany. It’s like, like this small (meaning like Down The Hill). Very well put together lineups. If you saw what played there, that particular version of the festival, there was like a Japanese psych band like Minami Deutsch. There was a Danish sort of Black Metal band Slaegt, there was a garage rock band from the Netherlands, Iguana Death Cult, there was us, Wolvennest, such a diverse lineup. And it showed me that people can do it, it can actually happen. We have so many different kinds of music, if there’s a team behind it that knows what they’re doing and where to put which band on which stage at what time it can totally work.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, there’s been quite a few festivals that have been starting to do that kind of thing
Dennis: It’s amazing. And we come from 20 years ago, our first band together, it was a punk hardcore band. If you drove up with a van with the wrong kind of music on, people would get in your face about it. Put up like Slayer, or I remember one time you pulled up Run DMC, and the punks would get in your face like “So you like you like Slayer?” “Yeah. Yeah.” “But that’s Metal” like. So. What? This spirit, that’s slowly slowly starting to disappear. Young people have no time for that shit.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, people just enjoy music, like whatever subgenre it is from. I think maybe also it’s coming from all the bands that are making some crossing of all those genres. And so now it’s just a really big sea of things, there’s no real border between genres.
Jevin: No, it becomes less of an identity badge, and more and more of it becomes more spiritual. That’s expanding, ever-expanding the force of sound, vibration, music is becoming its own thing. Instead of being all sliced up into things that are for your image, of you want to be perceived by your classmates, or whatever, it’s starting to be a bigger thing, which it really is.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, I think maybe also, people got a little bit more free of the outside look. That’s at least that, and like, the diversity of music, we can find it again, like this weekend, for example, with Pothamus or Psychonaut that are playing today that are not exactly in the same kind of thing as you or Monomyth for example, and like, it’s quite a big mix between some spacey instrumental stuff and some super aggressive post-metal. And anyway everyone is there and everyone’s enjoying it.
Dennis: I think that’s our dream scenario. We’re just doing shows together and put lineups together and have a saying into it, like booking shows yourself, with these lineups that maybe musically can be quite far apart, but in spirit are… like the show in Doornroosje on the 10th of September with Neptunian Maximalism, Silverbones and Temple Fang, three different bands, but there’s kind of a spiritual connection there.
Mr. Stone: The atmosphere will probably be going fluctuant, but staying in the same mood.
Dennis: That’s it, that lineup, that’s an adventure.
Jevin: It’s intense. It’s an evening. It’s an event. You come home and you’re tired. You’ve been bombarded with vibrational information. Beautiful.
Mr. Stone: That sounds really great. I wish I could come.
Dennis: We will do it again, you know, if our government will allow us.
Mr. Stone: So thanks so much for your kind answers, thanks for playing such an amazing show and keeping being such an amazing band. Keep doing what you’re good at.
Dennis: Appreciated, we’re doing it, so…
Mr. Stone: And we see each other at some point again in front of the stage. Cheers.
Dennis: Thank you. Bye
Temple Fang links